Robert Frost

(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963 / San Francisco)

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening


Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Monday, August 18, 2014

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  • Rookie - 0 Points Joyce Swait (10/24/2014 6:41:00 AM)

    This is a young man setting off on life's journey and coming to terms with the loneliness and isolation, which he is now realising is a part of the course he has chosen. He boosts his morale by reminding himself of his acquaintance with the owner of the woods and rationalises this by pretending to himself that the owner would be interested or concerned about him travelling through the woods, when really he knows it is no big deal for the owner. Still feeling his loneliness, he anthropomorphises the horse, attributing to the animal human thoughts. Perhaps the young man does not really believe that the horse thinks in such terms, but in making it near-human, he feels less alone and tries to cheer himself. The normal twitch of a horse, tossing its head, was not done to send a message in the bells - it is just what horses do when they are standing around. But this is a bleak time in the young man's life. The cold and snow fit his mood - he has reached the darkest time he has known in his life. But he is on a journey. Promises were made - maybe only to himself - it does not matter - he is realising for the first time that his chosen life is not going to be easy - he is travelling 'the road less travelled by' and feels that his life will cover a long, long distance before his final sleep. It is about self-deception, discovery of our true self, and finally, acceptance that life is not all sunshine and roses. Frost's genius is to put so much intense emotion into such apparently simple, everyday language. The rhythm and pace of the words leave you holding your breath. His descriptions succinctly form a full picture in our minds. Frost leaves it up to the reader to interpret himself. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 374 Points John Richter (10/20/2014 1:08:00 PM)

    Classic Frost! A moment's rest to witness a sight of beauty - and then fill the page with the solemnness and solitude that he endured while enjoying it. I see snow flakes pass by and a hear the faintest bell ring every time I read this poem.... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 63 Points Stephen Loomes (10/4/2014 8:48:00 PM)

    the farmer looking out his door, says it's only Frost the jerk next door, he's having one of his moments there, writing doggerel without a care, for his poor horse out in the snow, and he'll be a while, his thoughts are slow, and his noble steed, like me, must wait upon his musing, never a thought for those he's abusing. It is as if an ass is on a horse, what a spectacle in the snow, as the horse and the farmer wait, for the old bore to go. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 639 Points Sagnik Chakraborty (9/10/2014 10:58:00 AM)

    The eternal question of, and answer to, the love of beauty vs. the call of duty. Undoubtedly one of my most favourite poems in English, or any other language. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Tim Smith (9/2/2014 5:00:00 PM)

    Many years ago, I had to write a paper on Frosts, Birches. Research showed others with weird interpretations. Mine received an A.
    My point being poetry can mean something different to each reader. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Tim Smith (9/2/2014 4:58:00 PM)

    I would have read it with different accents. It is a favorite of mine though.
    I once read a Readers digest story of an English teacher who ran into a student years later, and having been wondering how much of what she had taught and this former student had kept, he stated that he had to go shouting, miles to go before I sleep. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 7 Points George Wolff (8/22/2014 3:34:00 PM)

    The speaker is riding alone in his hourse-drawn sled on a snowy evening. He stops to watch the woods fill up with snow, but he is aware the oweer might be suspicious and his horse wants to get to warmth and food and get his harness off. The speaker feels the tension between his pleasure in stopping and the bonds that tie him to society and to practical demands. He will go on to meet these demands but the stopping has been good. It was an impractical escape into aesthetic pleasure, in his mind associated with sleep and perhaps even resting in peace after death. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 13,836 Points Aftab Alam Khursheed (8/19/2014 8:09:00 AM)

    This is the famous poem and the last or concluding stanza is much more effective, I think this is the stanza which is thesoul of the poem, above three stanza is only supporting and paving path for the last...superb p[oem My salutation to the poet, may he live in peace (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 75 Points Ishita Chakrabarty (8/14/2014 2:15:00 PM)

    This poem has an altruistic air about it.Frost's poems always remind me about the choices we make in life.His poems make me crave for more.According to me sleep denotes the eternal sleep - death. Seems more like we have a lot to achieve before death can force us asleep. (Report) Reply

    Rookie - 639 Points Sagnik Chakraborty (9/10/2014 11:11:00 AM)

    I agree, 'sleep' refers to death, the ultimate rest that we go to. But before we can afford to bid Good night to the world, we have before us our duties, for which, if need be, we must also sacrifice our love for beauty, embodied here by the beautiful woods.

  • Rookie - 639 Points Bill Knotts (6/27/2014 1:46:00 AM)

    This poem is so beautiful, innocent… and sad. A lethal mix which has the ability to touch all of you. Like life itself it offers such joy and sorrow.
    Desiring death is forbidden to us even though we may be drawn to the comfort it might offer. He has gone to this forbidden place where he knows he should not be. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 678 Points Joseph Sanchez (4/28/2014 12:46:00 PM)

    i wish it was snowing. then again, when it snows, i wish its warm (Report) Reply

    Freshman - 1,154 Points Richard Provencher (8/26/2014 9:40:00 AM)

    Joseph, here in Nova Scotia we get our share of snow. A few years ago a storm landed about three feet on our community. My wife did not accompany me when I tented out in the winter, which is great fun.

  • Veteran Poet - 4,555 Points * Sunprincess * (4/27/2014 12:10:00 AM)

    ...........truly one of the best poems ever written....and with a touch of mystery which leaves me wondering what those promises to keep are....loved reading this poem... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 18 Points Crystal Star (4/1/2014 4:50:00 AM)

    By far, this is one poem I feel so attached to. The last lines I came across first in a childhood book I read about Nehru and then I read the whole poem to love it more. Then I was obsessed with Robert Frost poetry. (Report) Reply

Read all 179 comments »

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